14553 Private Victor Louis Collier, Bedfordshire Regiment, later 176995 Gunner Royal Horse Artillery
Born on 15th September 1893 in Ringshall
Died on 17th March 1938 in Hemel Hempstead
Victor Louis Collier was born in Ringshall, the younger child of Charles Collier and Elizabeth née Clifton; he was baptised at St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden on 12th November 1893.
His sister Frances Elizabeth Anne was born on 15th December 1889.
The 1901 Census shows the family living at 23 Ringshall and his father working as Domestic Gardener.
On 31st March 1897, Victor Collier of Ringshall started at Little Gaddesden School as an infant aged 3 years 6 months.
The School Log Book entry for 14th March 1904 names Victor as one of ten children awarded a 2 shilling attendance prize for full attendance during the previous year; others named included Walter Bunn, Godfrey Bunn, Bernard Phillips, Arthur Whitman and Archie Wells.
On 28th May 1907, Victor Collier and Godfrey Bunn passed their Exemption Paper (Certificate of Proficiency), enabling them to leave school and go out to work. They then left school on 3rd June when Godfrey was nearly 13 years 2 months and Victor 13 years 8½ months old.
In the 1911 Census, 17 year old Victor was a Farm Labourer, living at home in Ringshall with his parents and 21 year old sister Frances, who was a Laundry Worker, probably at the laundry at 14 Ringshall.
On 3rd September 1914, Victor, a 21 year old Gardener, attested for the Bedfordshire Regiment at Hertford. He was 5 feet 6¾ inches tall, weighed 124 pounds and had a 36½ inch chest. He had a fair complexion, brown eyes and dark brown hair. His Service Record also notes that his religion was Church of England and that his family lived at 22 Ringshall.
Victor was one of 16 men on the Little Gaddesden Roll of Honour who volunteered for the Bedfordshire Regiment in the first month of the War. 12473 William Wells volunteered on 26th August followed by 12589 William Grant, 12591 George Cash and almost certainly 12593 Charles Batchelor on the 27th. 13330 Frank Dove R.I.P. and 13724 Horace Halsey then joined on or before 3rd September 1914 and a further 10 men attested on 3rd September. These were 13785 Edward Saunders, 14374 Harold Catt, 14532 John Mayling, 14553 Victor Collier, 14546 Frederick Purton R.I.P., 14457 Ernest Bearton, 14575 Arthur Maunders, 17221 Bertie Purton, 17231 Herbert Fenn and 3/8219 Jesse Holland.
Victor served briefly as a Private, Service Number 14553, in E Company, 4th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, to which Harold Catt, Arthur Maunders, John Mayling and Edward Saunders were also posted. However, on 23rd October 1914 Victor was discharged, “not likely to become an efficient soldier” as the result of “chronic catarrh of both ears causing incurable deafness“. That, though, did not stop him being called up on 31st October 1916 to serve in the Royal Horse Artillery for the duration of the War.
On 1st November 1916 Victor enlisted as a Gunner, Service Number 176995, in the Royal Horse Artillery. After three weeks at the Depot, he joined P Battery, a training unit based at Woolwich, in which he served until 14th March 1917.
Victor then served in India and was awarded the British War Medal; his service details were:
- 15th March 1917 – 30th April 1918 – Gunner in M Battery, R.H.A., Indian Establishment at Risalpur, North West Frontier (now in Pakistan).
- 30th April 1918 – 20th April 1919 – Gunner at the Royal Artillery Depot at Neemuch
- 21st April 1919 – 17th August 1919 – Signaller in the R.H.A. Indian Establishment at Mhow
- 18th August 1919 – 14th January 1920 – Signaller at the Royal Artillery Depot at Jubbalpore
Returning Home 6
On 20th February 1920, Victor was demobilised and transferred to Class Z Reserve at Woolwich. He then returned to live with his parents at 22 Ringshall.
Men who have answered their country’s call in defence of a “Scrap of Paper”
Victor Collier is named on the Roll of Honour, which hangs in St Peter & St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden and lists 119 men from Little Gaddesden, Ringshall and Hudnall who served in the 1914 – 1918 War. His regiment is listed as the Royal Horse Artillery, in which he served overseas. He is similarly shown on the Centenary Revision of the Roll. Also listed on both Rolls is his cousin George Clifton, Royal Garrison Artillery. His younger cousin Philip Collier, Suffolk Regiment and his brother-in-law John Milton, Coldstream Guards, have been added to the Centenary Revision of the Roll.
Rolls of Honour photos: Jane Dickson, Michael Carver
In 1924 (2nd Quarter), Victor Louis Collier married Laura Gadsden; they lived first at 22 Ringshall and their daughter Ivy Laura was born on 11th January 1926.
By 1929, Victor and Laura lived in Dagnall; their daughter Stella was born in 1934.
44 year old Victor Collier of 4 Council Cottages, Dagnall, died in West Herts Hospital, Hemel Hempstead on 17th March 1938. He was a General Labourer and the cause of his death was a Cerebral Glioma (brain tumour).
4. Little Gaddesden School Log Books 1887 – 1906 and 1906 – 1934
12. Copy (pdf) of the Death Certificate of Victor Louis Collier d. 17th March 1938
Do you have any questions about the information recorded here? Or do you have any further information that you can share with us about those from Little Gaddesden who died or fought for their country? In either case, please contact Jane Dickson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Research, text and (unless otherwise credited) photos: Jane Dickson